Governor Terry McAuliffe on Thursday announced new and renewed Virginia Enterprise Zone (VEZ) designations. Five new zones were designated in the Commonwealth, including two regional zones. Five additional zones received renewals. The new zones designations are for the City of Bristol, the City of Newport News and Page County. The two new additional regional zones include one zone in the City of Galax and Carroll and Grayson Counties, and another zone for Accomack and Northampton Counties.
Speaking about Thursday’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “The enterprise zone Program has long been one of the state’s most successful incentive programs. The strong partnership between the state and local economic development authorities has been invaluable to recruiting new business opportunities and to helping existing Virginia businesses grow. Tools like this enable us to maintain our pro-business climate and continue building a new Virginia economy.”
Localities compete for initial enterprise zone designations, and 12 applications were submitted for the five available designations. Zones are designated for an initial 10-year period and may receive up to two five-year renewals for a total of 20 years. Currently, Virginia has a total of 57 Enterprise Zones throughout the state.
In addition to the new zones, five existing Virginia Enterprise Zones designated in 2005 have received renewals. The zones reached their 10-year designation milestone, and based on the Enterprise Zones’s effectiveness in creating jobs and capital investment, the zones were renewed through a noncompetitive process. The renewed zones include the Cities of Hampton, Hopewell and Petersburg, the Town of Bedford and Wythe County. These are the first five enterprise zone designations to go through the renewal process since the enterprise zone Grant Act was enacted in 2005.
“The enterprise zone program has been successful in communities across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “In the last five years, firms receiving enterprise zone incentives in the five renewed zones created 531 net new jobs and invested close to $104 million in real estate improvements. The program is an example of the kind of incentive we need to attract businesses and jobs to Virginia.”
The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development administers the VEZ program. VEZ supports job creation and private investment by providing state and local incentives such as the Job Creation Grant (JCG) and the Real Property Investment Grant (RPIG) to qualified businesses and investors in enterprise zones. Businesses can earn up to $200,000 during a five-year period in RPIGs, and for JCGs, they can receive up to $800 per position per year over a five-year period, depending on the wages offered. The program has supported more than $1 billion in investment and the creation of more than 40,000 jobs since 1995.